New store brings styles from Ukraine and more to downtown Edmonds

Nataly Charnetska behind the counter at NC Concept Store.

Watch for the soft opening this weekend of NC Concept Store at 403 Main St. in downtown Edmonds. It features hand-selected clothing, accessories, décor, jewelry, soaps, fragrances and more from Europe and around the world – but with a particular focus on Ukraine.

Owned and run by Edmonds resident and recent arrival from Ukraine Nataly Charnetska, the store is an expression of her passion to help her customer/clients realize and develop their own sense of style through her own carefully curated line of goods.

“Style is your personal signature,” she explained. “Fashion may come and go, but style is your own. I see all my customers as personal clients, and my job is to help them discover and express their own sense of style. When people like themselves in the mirror, they are happier and kinder.”

Charnetska intends the store to be like the increasingly popular “concept stores” springing up all over Europe as customers – especially young people – seek to explore their individual styles. Her store name reflects her initials.

She sees her store as offering an oasis from the hectic life, where customers can step in, slow down, and enjoy the moment while she guides them in finding their own look.

“I love people,” she added. “When a person feels beautiful, each part is beautiful.”

She went on to explain how similar concept stores are a growing trend in Europe, where people are moving away from larger department stores and seeking a more personalized shopping experience that offers options keyed to their own sense of style.  Young people in particular are fueling this move toward a renaissance of traditional design and culture.

Charnetska aims to bring this to Edmonds.

As an example, she pointed out a traditional Ukrainian Vyshyvanka garment — from her private collection — noting that similar items will be for sale in her store.

Nataly Charnetska shows off a traditional Ukrainian hand-embroidered Vyshyvanka dress, explaining that the embroidery is symbolic of several aspects of Ukrainian culture and that this item was made by craftswomen in Ukraine. After years of repression, items like this are coming back in Ukraine as the people rediscover their language, culture and traditions.
Nataly wearing the same Vyshyvanka dress at a Ukraine war protest in Seattle on March 5, 2022. (Photo courtesy Nataly Charnetska)

“It is all hand-embroidered by women with age-old symbolic patterns to protect and empower the wearer,” she said. “Traditionally the women believe it is important to sing and pray while working on them in order to endow them with spiritual and traditional power. It’s a very old tradition but is experiencing a revival today as awareness of our Ukrainian identity grows.

“Partially in response to more than 400 years of having our national and cultural identity repressed, especially lately as the Moscow government worked to eliminate our language and traditions, Vyshyvanka and other expressions of our culture are finally coming back in Ukraine,” she continued. “Growing up, I was taught to speak Russian – the Ukrainian language was discouraged – and I learned Russian cultural traditions instead of our own. Ever since Ukraine became independent in 1992, there was a huge movement to come back to our roots, including protecting and cherishing our language and culture, and this has only become moreso since the war began.  It’s not just history. It’s the soul of Ukraine.”

Born in northern Russia, Charnetska and her family moved to Belarus when she was 3.  Her parents worked for several years, and finally relocated in Ukraine when she was 12, settling in the Kyiv area. She attended regular school there, and ultimately went on to study economics at the Simon Kuznets Kharkiv National University of Economics in Kharkiv, where she graduated with honors.

She married, and along with her husband built a successful business focused on international trade in innovative equipment for industrial painting. But when Russia occupied the Crimea and its critical Black Sea ports in 2014, the couple lost much of their access to the market for their products.

“Our business started collapsing after this,” she explained. “We moved to Spain to get away from the unrest and refocused onto other goods and equipment. In 2017 we visited the U.S. for four months, where we fell in love with your country. We returned to Ukraine and spent the next four years applying for the green card lottery. Finally in 2020 my husband won the lottery, we got approved and began planning how we would keep running our business in Ukraine from our new home in the U.S.

“An old school friend of mine from Ukraine was living here in Edmonds and offered to let us stay in her extra room until we got settled,” Charnetska continued. “We moved here in late January 2022, but just two weeks after we arrived Russia invaded Ukraine, the war began and our entire business collapsed. We were left with practically nothing.”

Faced with having to cover basic living expenses while getting settled, her husband began driving for Amazon while she found a job selling shoes at the Crush shoe shop in Edmonds. Her husband has since found employment with Boeing.

While at Crush, Charnetska accumulated a group of loyal customers who liked her personal approach to helping them find just the right items.

“I loved building relationships with my customers,” she said. “Many heard my accent, asked me where I was from, and when I told them my story about living in Ukraine, losing our business and the challenges we were facing here, they were so sympathetic – I don’t know how many times they made me cry. I see beautiful people in this community – they’re so kind.”

The store will offer a range of goods from clothing to fragrances to luggage, jewelry and more – all personally curated by Charnetska.

Then last year the Crush owners decided to close their Edmonds location and concentrate on their other store in Snohomish. Because Charnetska had been such an asset to their business, they offered to help her open her own business in the space, went to bat for her with the landlord, and generally assisted in removing roadblocks and usher her through the process of getting established.

“Financing was particularly difficult,” she admitted. “We had very little money and no credit history to speak of. Then we found a Ukrainian credit union – it was so great.  They spoke the language; it felt like home.”

In the end, the credit union couldn’t lend them all they’d hoped for but was able to give them enough to get the store started.

For the past several weeks, Charnetska has been choosing and accumulating stock, arranging the store’s interior space, and getting ready for a soft opening on April 14.

“I’ll have things from all over the world,” she said. “I’m concentrating on handcrafted items that tell a story, support a family business, support women-owned businesses, and bring us back to our roots. But a big focus will be on traditional items from Ukraine. While my initial stock is aimed at women, I plan to bring in a men’s line as well featuring Italian clothing and shoes that I personally select.  My main lines of goods will be in the arriving in the store in late April and early May.”

In addition to Ukrainian items, the store will stock goods from other countries and cultures such as this Japanese silk scarf with the dog motif.

Charnetska still has family in Ukraine – her father still lives in the Kyiv area — and plans to send back a share of the store’s profits to support those who continue to persevere as the war rages on.

“Without these people providing me the opportunity and inspiration to become educated and start a new life in the U.S., I would not be here today,” she stressed. “I owe them for everything I have, and part of every dollar that comes into the store will go back to them.”

— Story and photos by Larry Vogel

  1. Welcome Nataly! You are such a fantastic addition to our downtown businesses and I can’t wait to shop!

  2. Welcome Nataly you are always so friendly when I see you downtown Edmonds and you come in buy Candy from the Papery.
    Kathy Newell

  3. Welcome, Nataly! We’re so excited to see what you have in store for our wonderful city. We look forward to your success. Slava Ukraïni! Heroiam slava!

  4. Welcome to Edmonds. I am sure the store will be very successful. The clothes I have seen you wear are always beautiful. Your store will be an asset to our community.

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